The Mousetrap: Play Within A Play
When we last left Elsinore, Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh) had caught onto his uncle Claudius’ (Derek Jacobi) plot to usurp the throne from his murdered brother, and conspired with a visiting troupe of actors to form a play within a play to reveal Claudius’ guilt.
In performances of Hamlet past and present, the play is usually presented as a psychological gambit, a way for the prince of Denmark to suss out his uncle’s intent in open court. Also known as a mise en abyme, the ‘play within a play’ plot is a good narrative technique to peer into character’s psychological states due to its often referential nature to the larger story’s plot.
Hamlet can be played as a melodrama, or as a tragedy; the two are not entirely immiscible, but the grandiosity and the melancholy of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays leaves it often to interpretation. There have been numerous film adaptations and adaptors: Laurence Olivier (1946), Grigori Kozintsev (1964), Tony Richardson (1969), Ethan Hawke (2000). The tale of the downfall of the prince of Denmark and his family contains the same classic messages and timeless themes that initially made it famous, and today we take a look at Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996).
Tarantino is famous for being a multi-faceted creator; he writes his own movies, he directs them, and more often than not he puts himself in them. His films most known for their dialogue, sharp, cool, and lean, but what happens if we take that away, and look at his choices as a director, specifically focusing on costuming? Let’s take a look at the costumes and characters of Pulp Fiction (1994).
At its center, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is a tale of days gone by, an era that has passed us. It is enjoyable because it is a glimpse into a stylized snapshot, potent with nostalgia and quirky eccentricity, a phrase I’m sure has been used to describe Wes Anderson’s films since Bottle Rocket.
But what makes this film in particular so enjoyable to watch? When it comes to narrative technique, composition, and dialogue, it really hits the sweet spot, but what interested me most was the symmetrical composition, which I’m about to dive right on into.
My interest yesterday in Jean Cocteau lingered on today, so I decided to watch another of his more famous works.
It’s often said that comedians make great actors; it’s not so unbelievable – stand-up and comedic acting require the same beats that non-comedic actors use all the time: pacing, body language, timing, charisma. The craft is essentially the same breed, with different stripes.
Where the hell does one begin with Fargo? It is a twisted tale of murder, staged kidnapping, insurance fraud, mallard stamps, and pancakes; it’s a story about human selfishness and greed, mediocrity inspired by suburban living, yet it also is about persistence and the dogged pursuit of fact against circumstance.